September, near the end of summer, is my favorite time of year to travel around Europe. Tourism crowds decrease, yet weather in northern Europe is generally still warm, while southern Europe is more tolerable temperatures than mid-July and August.
Best of all, airline ticket prices from USA to European cities drop significantly.
September 15-16 major airline ticket price drop
As of today, the major drop in airfare for California to Europe tickets happens on the weekend of Sep 15-16, 2018. Based on airfare trends of recent years, I anticipate dates for low fares will shift to early September some time in June, then low fares shift to August departure travel deals in July for people who can ticket and travel on short notice.
As an example, Star Alliance generally has the lowest fares to several cities in Europe today from California airports LAX, SFO, SJC compared to Oneworld and SkyTeam alliances. There is a substantial drop in ticket prices for departures on Thursday Sep 13 compared to departures from California to Europe on Sun Sep 16.
The difference a couple of days make is illustrated in Google Flights Explore Map mode.
Google Flights California-Europe Thursday September 13 departures
(filtered for Star Alliance airlines only)
- Oslo $530 United
- Copenhagen $532
- Reykjavik $566 Air Canada and United
- Stockholm $614
- Milan $622
- London $623
- Paris $651
- Barcelona $654
- Dublin $667
- Warsaw $687
- Rome $695
Google Flights California-Europe
Sunday September 16 departures (filtered for Star Alliance airlines only)
- Oslo $383 United ($147 lower)
- Copenhagen $431 ($101 lower)
- Paris $437 ($214 lower)
- Rome $458 ($237 lower)
- Stockholm $481 ($133 lower)
- London $488 ($135 lower)
- Reykjavik $566 Air Canada and United (no change)
- Warsaw $594 ($93 lower)
- Milan $622 (no change)
- Barcelona $632 ($22 lower)
- Dublin $652 ($15 lower)
A couple of days can mean a huge difference in ticket price when your travel dates border seasonal airline ticket price changes.
August 16 is another ticket price shift date
A similar airline ticket price shift happens around Thursday, August 16 when prices drop by about $200 if you return from Paris and several other cities in Europe on or after Aug 16, compared to return flights on Wednesday, August 15.
Google Flights fare matrix ticket prices for San Jose-Paris
- $873 Sun Aug 5 – Wed Aug 15 San Jose SJC – Paris round trip
- $618 Sun Aug 5 – Thu Aug 16 San Jose SJC – Paris round trip
San Jose SJC – Paris round trip tickets are $250 to $300+ less when you return on Thursday, Aug 16 compared to one day earlier peak season prices in effect through Wednesday August 15.
Different routes have different peak season dates.
San Francisco – Rome has Saturday August 18 as the first low fare return date. The price difference is a bit staggering since Saturday Aug 18 or Sat Aug 25 are the first two low fare dates for return flights in late August with all dates in between hundreds of dollars higher for a round trip ticket to Rome.
- $642 round trip SFO – Rome Sat Aug 4 – Sat Aug 18
- $941 round trip SFO – Rome Sat Aug 4 – Mon Aug 20 (next lowest fare)
If you want a 2-week trip, then a return on Saturday Aug 18 saves hundreds of dollars or stay to Sat August 25.
Google Flights Explore Maps used in conjunction with Google Flights Fare Matrix is a useful money saving tool for trip planning.